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Archive for August, 2016

UK Chess Challenge Swansong?

The world’s largest chess tournament, the Delancy UK Chess Challenge, which annually attracts between 40 – 70 thousand children, came to a thrilling finale in Loughborough recently, with prizewinners at all age groups, and not always the expected ones.

However, it may be a finale in more ways than one, as Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs have declared bankrupt the event’s organiser for the last 21 years, Mike Basman, with a VAT bill of c. £⅓ million for an unpaid 20% tax on the children’s entry fees. Even now, the authorities are assessing his assets to see whether being forced to sell his house in Chessington would cover the bill.

Last January the law was changed to allow not-for-profit sports organisations to benefit from tax breaks. One hundred different sports were so advantaged, including Boccia, Tchoukball, Octopush and Arm-wrestling, to name but four (don’t ask what they are, but the other 96 may be found on the HMRC website), but “mind sports” like chess and bridge were excluded. The English Bridge Union appealed against the ruling but was unsuccessful.

Basman’s case is that he works tirelessly in his own time for the benefit of children, happily pays up to £12,000 VAT per annum on badges, trophies etc. but to become VAT-registered himself in order to process the entry fees would involve the nightmare of accountants, rigorous book-keeping, tax inspections etc. after which the schools would claim back their VAT payments anyway, making the whole exhausting rigmarole pointless.

Many of the children involved are among the country’s very brightest and best, and will be competing in their age-group at world level, as have previous winners. Compare this treatment by the Government to that of our recently returned Olympic heroes and heroines who have had about £⅓ billion of Lottery money spent on them.

Mike Basman deserves a gold medal himself, yet for all his efforts, freely given over two decades, faces being turned out onto the street.

It is also in stark contrast to the way HMRC deals with global businesses like Amazon, Starbucks et al, tentatively asking whether they could possibly spare a few crumbs from their massive profits by way of tax. It’s another example of the old saying about the law being “good at catching sparrows while the eagle soars free”.

The event website, delanceyukschoolschesschallenge.com contains details of all prizewinners, photographs, games, etc. and a petition page where anyone can register their wish to have chess de-registered from VAT like all physical sports. Basman also encourages anyone concerned over the issue to write to their MP, requesting a credible explanation and some effort to get things changed.

The solution to last week’s 3-mover was 1.Bg6! and whatever Black tries White has 2.Bh5 and 3.Qe2 mate.

In this position, Black can survive for 2 moves but will be powerless against White’s 3rd move.

White to play and win

A Classic Game from the Paignton Congress (27.08.2016.)

The Paignton Congress starts next weekend, and overall entries are currently down on previous years but organisers are hoping for a last minute rush of entries to balance things up. Entry forms are downloadable from chessdevon.co.uk.

Here is a game from Paignton in 1955.

White: Sir Philip Milner-Barry. Black: Harry Golombek.

Notes by the winner.

Sicilian Defence – Wing Gambit [B10].

1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 As played by Golombek against Penrose at the recent British Championship. Penrose replied 4.c4, which did not seem very effective. 4.b4 cxb4 5.a3 bxa3 6.Nxa3 A sort of Wing Gambit in which White has answered d4 with e5 – normally a poor move when the Black queen’s bishop can get out, but White has here an extra tempo. 6…Nc6 7.Be2 Bg4 8.d4 e6 9.0–0 Nge7 10.c3 Nf5 11.Qd3 So as to bring the queen and king’s bishop to their most hopeful attacking posts as quickly as possible. 11…Be7 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Qxf3 h5 14.Bd3 g6 15.Nc2 Rc8 16.Bd2 Qd7 White has very little for the pawn, but his defensive position, based on the c3 pawn is very strong, and as the course of the game shows, the Black king’s wing is not as invulnerable as it looks. 17.Ne3 Kf8 Clearly he does not want to exchange on e3, giving White the f-file. 18.g3 a6 19.Ng2 Kg7 20.Nf4 Nh6 21.Kg2 White must be prepared to double rooks on the h-file, in case Black should exchange pawns when White plays g4. 21…Na7 22.g4 h4 23.Ne2 A further regrouping to play f4 and eventually f5. 23…Nb5 24.Qe3 Na3 25.f4 Black’s hold on f5 is so strong that White must face an eventual sacrifice. I considered seriously Rxa3 at once, so as to preserve the valuable white-square bishop; but eventually decided not to commit myself irrevocably just yet. 25…Nc4 26.Bxc4 dxc4 I had rather expected Rxc4 27.Kh2 Qc6 28.Rf2 Kf8 29.Rg1 Ke8 30.f5 exf5! Again best. If 30…gxf5 White would break through with 31.g5 and g6. 31.g5 f4 31…Ng8 32.Nf4 leaves Black sadly cramped. If 32…Qe4 33.Qxe4 fxe4 34.Re2 followed by d5. 32.Nxf4 Nf5 33.Qe1 Qc7 34.Nd5 Now 34.d5 could be met by 34…Bc5 34…Qd8 35.Nf6+ Kf8 The best chance was 35…Bxf6 36.exf6+ Kd7 37.Bf4 I doubt if the position can ultimately be held. 36.Qe4 Rc6 37.Rxf5 gxf5 38.Qxf5 39.d5 and 39.g6 were both threats. 38…Bxf6 39.gxf6 Qd5 39…Ke8 comes to much the same. e.g. 40.Qg4 Qa5 41.Qg7 Rf8 42.Bh6 Qa3 43.d5 followed by d6. 40.Qg5 Ke8 41.Qg7 Rb6 If 41…Rf8 42.Bh6; or if 41…Rh5 42.Qg8+ Kd7 43.Qg4+. 42.Qxh8+ Kd7 43.Qxh4 Rb2 44.Rg2 a5 45.Qg4+ 1-0. On the move follows e6. The most interesting game that I have played for many years. I do not know when Black went wrong; perhaps White’s 4th move is better than it looks.

The solution to last week’s 2-mover by Sam Loyd was 1.Bf8! after which Black has 4 unsuccessful “tries”, namely 1…KxR 2.BxQ mate. 1…KxB 2.Qa3 mate; 1…NxB 2.Qc2 mate or 1…RxB 2.Qa1 mate.

Here is a new 3-mover by Dave Howard.

White to mate in 3

Exmouth’s New Club-Room (26.08.2016.)

Exmouth Chess Club, currently Devon’s Division 1 Champions, have moved to new premises, at The Holly Tree Inn, Withycombe Village Road, EX8 3AN, where they now meet every Wednesday from 6 p.m.

To mark this occasion, a friendly 7 board match was arranged in their new club-room against their nearest neighbours, East Budleigh, led by team captain, Brian Gosling.

The result was a win for the home team, the score-line of which makes it look somewhat easier than it actually was.

The details were (Exmouth names first in each pairing):

1. Mark Abbott ½-½ Dr. Michael Marshall. 2. Meyrick Shaw 1-0 Brian Gosling. 3. Malcolm Belt 0-1 Ken Alexander. 4. Bob Jones 1-0 Mike Lee. 5. Simon Blake 1-0 Barbara Newcombe. 6. Ivor Grist 1-0 Max Lee. 7. Fred Hodge 1-0 Sam Lister. Total – 5½ – 1½.

Both Exmouth and East Budleigh welcome new members interested in competing face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball rather than just on-line.

East Budleigh meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month in the Hall of All Saints Church, Hayes Lane, the church tower of which can be seen for miles.

The match gets under way (East Budleigh facing)

Top 3 boards: Abbott vs Marshall. Shaw vs Gosling & Belt vs Alexander

Paignton Approaches (20.08.2016.)

The 66th Paignton Congress starts a fortnight tomorrow. Of course, for 62 years this was held at Oldway Mansion, one-time home of the Singer family of sewing machine fame. The respected writer and player, Harry Golombek, reporting on the event in the 1960s, wrote “Devon is indeed lucky in its choice for its annual congress …. a delectable spot to pursue the joys of a hard week’s chess, interspersed with the even greater and surer delights of walks and wanderings in the beautiful sunlit gardens that surround Oldway”.

And so it continued for decades until the estate was sold to property developers, who promised great things in honeyed words that have since proved empty, as the house has been mothballed ever since and continues to deteriorate. Hence the move to the Livermead House Hotel, which may lack the Grade 1 listed gardens and grandiose atrium, but compensates with a swimming pool, an excellent restaurant and easier parking.

Here’s a game from those good old days (1968) between two Birmingham boys who eventually retired to Paignton.

Notes by the winner.

White: Peter C. Griffiths. Black: Jon E.  Lawrence,

Caro-Kann Defence [B10]

1.e4 c6 2.c4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.cxd5 Nf6 Black’s plan is to play on the weakness of White’s isolated pawn on d2. In these types of position exchanges tend to favour Black and further weaken the isolated pawn. 5.Bb5+ Bd7 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.Bb3 Not 7.Qe2?? as 7…b5 would be terminal. 7…Nxd5 Black has already equalised. 8.d4 Should White have accepted the proffered gift with 8.Bxd5 there would follow 8…Qe5+ 9.Qe2 Qxd5 10.Nf3. 8…Bc6 The struggle for White’s d-pawn begins. 9.Nf3 Nd7 10.0–0 e6 11.Re1 Be7 12.Nc3 N7f6 13.Bg5 0–0 14.Ne5 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Nd5 16.Bxe7 Nxe7 17.Qg4 If 17.Nxf7 Rxf7 18.Bxe6 Bd5 19.Bxf7+ Bxf7 and Black has control of all the key white squares. 17…Nd5 18.Rac1 Rad8? Probably a slight inaccuracy. More dynamic would be 18…Rfd8 as the other rook would be better used on c8 or b8. 19.Qh4 Qe7 20.Qe4 Qf6 threatening Nxc3. 21.Bc2 g6 22.Nxc6 bxc6 23.Ba4 Better would be 23.Bb3. 23…Nxc3 24.Qxc6 Nxa4 25.Qxa4 Qxd4 assuming control of the d-file. 26.Qa6 Rd6 27.Qb7 Rd7 28.Qa6 Rd6 29.Qb7 Rd7 30.Qa6 Rfd8 Black now has complete control of the centre and d-file. 31.g3 Qd3 32.Qa4 Qd4. Black is now looking to the time control at move 40. 33.Rc4 Qb6 threatening Rd2. 34.Rc6 Rd4 35.Qc2 Qa5 36.Qb1 Rd2 37.a4 Desperation. 37…Qxa4 38.Qe4 Qxe4 39.Rxe4 R8d4 0-1. White is 2 pawns down with no compensation, so resigned. After 40.Rxd4 Rxd4 Black has reached the safety net of the time control and can rely on considered technique to nurse home the passed pawn.

In last week’s position, White can just plough ahead with a series of sacrificial captures, viz. 1.QxR+ BxQ 2.RxB+ QxR 3.RxQ mate, as Black’s remaining bishop blocks its king’s escape.

Here is a 2-mover by the evergreen Sam Loyd (1841-1911).

Adams Sprints Home (13.08.2016.)

So, Michael Adams won the British Championship for the 5th time with a record score of 10/11 points, comprising 9 wins and 2 draws. The only other player to achieve this was Julian Hodgson at Plymouth in 1993, but the field then was not as strong as this year, as sponsorship had attracted most of the active grandmasters.

In the final round, as he had already played all his main rivals, Adams was paired against someone far lower in the pecking order. Doubtless it was a great thrill for the 22 yr old Brown to be playing Adams on top board, and he had nothing to lose, except the game itself; everything else was a bonus.

White: Andrew Brown (222). Black: Michael Adams (269).

Scotch Game [C45]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 The Scotch Game  3…exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 8.Nd2 would constitute the Cochrane Attack, but White prefers to develop his knight to c3. 8…Nb6 9.Nc3 Qe6 Freeing up his constricted kingside position. 10.Qe4 g6 11.Bd3 The bishop might have had more scope on  e2, rather then lining up against Black’s solid fianchetto position. 11…Bg7 12.f4 0–0 13.0–0 White may be shaping up to occupy f5, but Adams decides to get there first, although in itself an unusual move in this position. 13…f5 14.exf6? In the majority of games reaching this position, White usually plays 14.Qe2, as taking en passant gives Black a good open position. 14…Qxf6 15.Bd2 d5 16.Qe2 If 16.cxd5 Bf5 17.Qf3 Qd4+ picking up the bishop. 16…Ba6 17.Rae1 Bxc4 18.Bxc4 Nxc4 19.Bc1 a5 20.Qc2 Rae8 21.Qa4? The queen departs the battlefield, with no threats of her own, which gives Adams the green light for an immediate all-out attack. 21…Qd4+ 22.Kh1 Rxe1 23.Rxe1 Qf2 Threatening mate. 24.Rg1 Bd4 25.Rd1 Re8 Another piece joins the fray to threaten another mate. 26.h3 Re1+ 27.Kh2 Qg1+ 28.Kg3 Ne3 Threatening mate on g2, but White calls it a day anyway 0–1. If 29.Rd2 h5 etc.

The tournament result demonstrated Adams’ continuing supremacy on the British chess scene, and he shows no sign of slowing down or relaxing his grip. On the other hand, Brown has no cause to feel down-hearted; much will be heard of him in future.

If the British Championship marks the climactic end of the old season, the Paignton Congress marks the start of the new. It begins 3 weeks tomorrow at the Livermore House Hotel on the Torbay seafront. Entry forms may be downloaded from chessdevon.co.uk or obtained from Alan Crickmore on 01752-768206 or e-mail plymouthchess@btinternet.com. It’s his last year as Secretary and a successor is actively being sought.

Last week’s 2-mover was solved by 1.R6a6! when Black has only 2 possible moves. If 1…d3 2.Bg7 mate, or 1…Kxe4 2.Re6 mate.

In this position, both sides have long-ranging pieces, and it could be a case of Who moves wins. In fact it’s White’s move, so is this true? Can he win by

force or be mated himself.

White to play - who wins?

Adams In The Driving Seat (06.08.2016.)

At the time of going to press, after 9 of the scheduled 11 rounds of the British Championship, the eleven Grandmasters occupied most of the leading  places, as surely as cream rises to the top, though there was still time for an upset or two. Top seed Michael Adams was in the clear lead with 8/9 pts, followed by the 2014 champion, David Howell on 7, with Gormally, Nick Pert and New Zealander Justin Tan level on 6½. There was a whole raft of players on 6/9 pts, namely Mark Hebden, Chris Ward, John Emms, Richard Palliser, Keith Arkell, Martin Brown and Jovanka Houska, who will almost certainly become Ladies Champion. At this stage in the proceedings, it’s difficult to see how Adams can fail to become clear winner, as he has already played most of the top opponents.

The prizegiving takes place this morning at 10 a.m. and the full prizelists for all the many different sections may be found on the event website.

Next year it will be held in Aberystwyth and will be squeezed into 1 week instead of the traditional fortnight in the hope this might attract more players.

This was deemed Rd. 8’s Game of the Day between two very attacking players.

Black: Danny Gormally (245). Black: Chris Ward (240).

Sicilian Defence – Accelerated Dragon [B50]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c3 Bg7 4.Bc4 d6 5.0–0 Nf6 6.d3 White decides to keep the centre closed for the time being; it looks slow, but has a latent sting. 6…0–0 7.Bb3 Nc6 8.h3 Restricting the scope of Black’s white-square bishop 8…Rb8 9.Re1 b5 It’s thematic in the Sicilian that Black should counter any White kingside attack with a thrust on the other wing. 10.Nbd2 a5 11.Nf1 b4 12.Be3 Nd7 13.d4 Now White decides to open up the centre, due to Black’s growing pressure on c3. 13…Ba6 14.N1h2 This looks a slow manoeuvre, but it’s eyeing up the attacking potential if and when the knight can get to g5. 14…bxc3 15.bxc3 cxd4 16.cxd4 Nf6? Inviting e5 and the start of a central attack. Much better was 16…Nb4 when Black may get the knight established on d3. If, for example, 17.Re2 then 17…Nb2 attacking both queen & rook. 17.e5! Suddenly the game has changed as White seizes the initiative. 17…Ne8 18.Ng4 d5 19.Qd2 Nc7 20.Rac1 Nb4 21.Rxc7!? A very brave exchange sacrifice. 21…Qxc7 22.Bh6 Bxh6 23.Qxh6 Threatening Ng5. 23…f6 24.exf6 exf6 25.Re6 Black is still the exchange up, but is fast running out of time and has only 30 seconds per move left, too little to calculate all the necessary defensive moves required. 25…Qg7 26.Qe3 h5 27.Re7 hxg4 If 27…Qh8 28.Qe6+ Rf7 29.Qxf7# 28.Rxg7+ Kxg7 29.hxg4 Bc4 30.g5 Rbe8 31.gxf6+ Kxf6 At this point Black’s allotted time ran out. 1–0

In the 2 days since going to press, everything was resolved, and, unable to wait till next Saturday, here is what happened, based on the report given on the event website by the ECF Publicity Officer, Mark Jordan.

Michael Adams, the long-time highest rated English player on the FIDE rating list, won the British Chess Championships, to add to his 4 previous British titles. His score of 10/11 equalled the record set by Julian Hodgson in 1992 and, given that future championships are planned to be run over 9 rounds, this was probably the last opportunity for the record to be equalled or exceeded.

At the start of the final round there was a remote chance that there could be a play-off as, had Adams lost and David Howell won, they would have both been on 9/11 necessitating a play-off. Unusually for the final round of the Championships however, the leader, Adams, was playing Black against an untitled opponent, Martin Brown, over whom he had a near 500 point rating advantage. One of the reasons for such an unbalanced pairing was that Adams had already played all his main rivals with an interesting effect on the up- and down-floats; the other reason being that Brown had had a very good tournament, and now needed a draw to secure an IM norm. Since Adams also needed a draw to ensure he won the title it was always possible that an early decision could be agreed. The question was whether Adams would be tempted to offer a quick draw in order to guarantee his 1st place and the prize money involved, and allow him to wander round the playing hall at leisure, enjoying the trials and tribulations of the other players. Or would he go for the throat, with the idea of going for a record-equalling high score of 10/11pts?

In the event, he eschewed the idea of a quick draw and went for a quick win, as Brown walked in to some pretty original and devilish opening preparation in a well-known position, failed to respond accurately and was despatched in short-order. The game was over hours before any other.

Brown had the compensation that he played a great tournament, and had the opportunity to contribute what might turn out to be a theoretically important game against, arguably, Britain’s greatest ever player on Bd. 1 of the last ever British Championships run in an 11-round format. So many congratulations to Michael Adams and a big thumbs-up to Martin Brown for contributing to an historic event!

Congratulations also to Jovanka Houska who has won the British Women’s title with a score of 7/11. She defeated Lentzos in the final round but already had the Championships in the bag with a round in hand.

Other Westcountry players in the Championship scored as follows:

Keith Arkell (Paignton) 6½

Jack Rudd (Barnstaple) & Jeremy Menadue (Truro)  both 5½

Carl Bicknell (Bristol); Brian Hewson (Tiverton) both 5.

Steve Dilliegh (Bristol) 3½

All this, and much else besides, may be found on the event website, and Mark Jordan will be producing a full report in the ECF’s on-line magazine, Chessmoves.

In last week’s position, Black’s queen had no quick retreat, so could be attacked with 1.b4 after which it can no longer defend his bishop which may be taken next move.

Here is a new 2-mover by Dave Howard.

White to play and mate in 2